Photo courtesy of Louis Christ Photography
Former Saskatoon Hilltop running back Adam Machart (pictured) highlights the 2021 East-West Bowl roster recognitions announced Wednesday by the Canadian Football League.
The roster recognitions celebrate the next generation of top Canadian football prospects, with eight former CJFL standouts identified for the 2022 CFL Draft, following completion of the 2021 Draft on May 4.
For the next year, players from both squads will vie for coveted spots on the CFL Scouting Bureau Top 20 Prospects List – published in the fall, winter and spring – before showcasing their skills through virtual or in-person regional and national combines in advance of the Draft this time next year.
Machart earned 2019 Canada West Player of the Year and First Team All-Canadian honours and was a finalist for the Hec Crighton Trophy as U SPORTS regular season MVP.
The former CJFL players on the East-West Bowl rosters are:
James Parker of the VI Raiders
Brycen Mayoh of the VI Raiders and Westshore Rebels
Dawson Davis of Valley Huskers
Jayden Dalke of the Edmonton Wildcats
David Solie of the Saskatoon Hilltops
Adam Machart of the Saskatoon Hilltops
Donovan Burgmaier of the Edmonton Huskies
Ted Kubongo of the Calgary Colts
Good luck to all eight CJFLers.
The CJFL Life Member Award is saved for an individual that has contributed a great deal to their team, their Conference and to the CJFL as a whole. Today’s Life Member honouree has done all that and more.
The sport of football is usually a family affair. With their child on the field playing, parents, siblings and aunts and uncles are in the stands cheering them on. When one parent coaches a team, the other is involved on the management side.
In the case of the Johnson’s, when husband Gord is a diehard fan and is involved with a CJFL team, wife Helen decided to volunteer as well.
Helen Johnson started volunteering with a CJFL team in 2003 with the South Surrey Rams and was hooked. She stayed with them for two seasons, before joining her husband Gord with the Abbotsford Air Force in 2006 as the club’s secretary and registrar. Unfortunately for the Air Force, that was their final season.
Still wanting to volunteer her time with a CJFL team, Helen decided to go back to where it all started for her; the South Fraser Rams. She spent the 2007 season and some of the 2008 campaign back with the Rams before another adventure came calling.
In 2008 both Helen and Gord joined the VI Raiders board just in time to watch them win a Canadian Bowl championship that season. The Raiders finished the regular season at 9-1 then beat the Saskatoon Hilltops in Saskatoon, before dominating the Burlington Braves in Ontario to win the title.
Helen stayed with the Raiders as a volunteer and secretary until after the 2010 season. Incredibly in her three seasons with the Raiders, the team won two Canadian Bowl titles.
In 2009 while still with the Raiders, Helen took on the extra responsibility of becoming the BC Conference Secretary, volunteering countless hours. She stayed in this role until after the 2017 season. Right in the middle of her time with the Conference Helen along with her husband Gord shared the BC Conference Ken Smith Executive of the Year Award in 2015 for excellence off the field.
For all the long volunteer hours Helen sunk into the BC Conference, the Air Force and the Raiders the CJFL is proud to honour her with this Life Member Award. Congratulations Helen, who joins Gord as the only wife-husband team to be recognized with this honour, it is well deserved!
The Vancouver Island Raiders are based in Nanaimo, BC and joined the BC Conference of the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) in 2005. It essentially was awarded the franchise that had belonged to the Abbotsford Air Force, which had disbanded following the 2004 season. In their very first campaign the Raiders finished with an incredible 8-2 record, but lost in the semi-finals.
In the 15 years the franchise has existed, the Raiders have remarkably not only won eight BC Conference titles but three Canadian Bowls as well, having beaten the Edmonton Wildcats (2006 & 2009) twice and the Burlington Braves (2008). Both wins over the Wildcats were claimed at home at Caledonia Park, while their other championship was captured in Burlington, Ontario. Winning three titles in four seasons displays just how dominate the team was during that run and represents the greatest moments in the team’s history.
The Raiders path to the 2008 championship took them to Saskatoon where they beat the Hilltops and to this day still represent the only time a team from BC has beaten the Hilltops in Saskatchewan in a playoff game since the late 1940s.
In addition to their three Canadian titles, the Raiders have also appeared in another two championship games (2010 & 2013) and three national semi-final games.
In 2017 the Raiders received an honour no other BC Conference team has had; inducted into the BC Football Hall of Fame for their outstanding success on the field.
For a team/organization that has only been in existence for 15 years, these are remarkable accolades. Overall the Raiders record following the 2019 season reads 155-32-3. In the playoffs, the team’s record is 18-7; with eight Conference championships and on the national stage they are a combined 6-4 with those three Canadian Bowl rings.
Along with their winning tradition, the Raiders have been a leader in bringing forward ideas such as a scholarship program for players continuing education and pioneering the streaming of its games over the internet. Most teams across the CJFL have adopted one or both of these ideas after seeing the success in Nanaimo.
When discussing the Raiders alumni, the first name that always comes to mind is Andrew Harris, who has gone on to enjoy a great career in the CFL with both the BC Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Harris still holds the CJFL record for highest rushing average in a career at 9.9 yards a carry, highest average in a season when he averaged 14.5 yards a carry in 2009 and most rushing touchdowns in a career with 54. He’s second in career rushing yards with 4,133 from 2005-2009.
In addition to Harris, a large number of Raiders alum have gone onto to play at the University level as well as the CFL. These include: Jordan Yantz, Lorne Plante, Curtis Vizza, Andrew Smith, Whitman Tomusiak, Joe Lipinski, Ryan Wellman, Brian Ridgeway and Robin Medeiros.
The Raiders are hoping for a new home in 2021 and are slated to play on the field turf of NDSS Field in Nanaimo, with a new 7,000 seat facility scheduled to be built around the field. Most teams in the BC Conference will be pleased not to play at Caledonia Park, a near impossible place to win for opposing teams.
Quick Raiders Facts:
Conference – BC Conference
Location – 110 Wall St, Nanaimo, BC
Raiders President – Kabel Atwall
Head Coach – Curtis Vizza
Stadium – Caledonia Park
Social Handle - @VIRaiders / @vi.raiders
Primary Colours – Black, Red, White